Scope and Contents
- 1915 - 2014
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
In 1931 Bullard took up a post as a demonstrator in the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics in Cambridge, where he worked on a variety of projects: geophysical instrument design; gravity determination in Britain and Africa; explosion seismology, including the first British expeditions to study the Atlantic sea floor; and thermal conductivity. He was seconded to the Admiralty as an Experimental Officer in 1939 to work on strategy and projects connected with marine warfare, including anti-mine protection for shipping. In 1944 he became Assistant Director, Naval Operational Research, and remained an adviser to the Admiralty until his retirement.
In 1947 Bullard accepted a post as Professor of Physics at Toronto. While on a summer vacation visit to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Bullard carried out some of his most important work on the design of equipment for heat-flow at sea, in collaboration with A. E. Maxwell. In 1950 he was appointed Director of the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, where he continued to work on marine heat-flow, building apparatus and taking part in marine expeditions, and developed his dynamo theory of terrestrial magnetism. He was knighted in recognition of this service and his wartime work in 1953. Bullard returned to the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics at Cambridge in 1955 and was appointed Assistant Director of Research (1956), Reader in Geophysics and Fellow of Churchill College (1960), and Professor (1964). In 1964 he also accepted a Visiting Professorship at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, part of the Scripps Institution, which enabled him to spend three months engaged in teaching and research in La Jolla every year. In his research into continental drift Bullard developed a pioneering interest in computational methods for processing data, which underpinned the eventual acceptance of the concept of plate tectonics. He then began to research the origin of the earth's magnetic field, energy sources, and nuclear waste disposal. Throughout his career Bullard acted as consultant to universities and government departments in both Britain and the United States, and to industrial firms including the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Shell, and I.B.M. UK. He was also a member of professional and learned societies, including the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society, and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. He was a founder member of the Natural Environment Research Council; played a part in attempts to negotiate a test-ban treaty, including attending the Pugwash conferences; and was joint chairman of the Anglo-American Ballistic Missiles Committee.
Bullard married Margaret Ellen Thomas, 1931, with whom he had four daughters, the middle of whom were twins. Margaret assisted with Bullard’s early experimental work, keeping notebooks and thermal conductivity measurements. The marriage was dissolved in January 1974, and in June 1974 Bullard married Ursula Margery Curnow, a painter and sculptor.
Bullard died in La Jolla in April 1980, a few hours after completing the manuscript of his 196th scientific article.
117 archive box(es)
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Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection level description was prepared by Heidi Egginton in July 2017 using information from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Who' Was Who (A & C Black, 2014), and from the NCUACS catalogue to the collection (1984).
- 2017-07-14 16:23:29+00:00
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